WMU Hosts Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA) on the High Seas Workshop

From 13 to 15 November, the World Maritime University’s WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute (GOI) hosted a workshop in Costa Rica on Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA) on the High Seas. The workshop was delivered in partnership with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and in collaboration with the Sargasso Sea Commission and MarViva. The workshop was supported by The Nippon Foundation, the Global Environment Facility, UNDP, SARGADOM and IOC-UNESCO. 

The main objective of the workshop was to develop technical knowledge of the various measures taken by IMO to address the threats posed by international shipping, particularly regarding the process of preparing and submitting a PSSA proposal to the IMO. The workshop examined the Thermal Dome and the Sargasso Sea, two sites representative of the diversity and importance of high seas ecosystems that are facing significant challenges posed by international shipping. These two sites perfectly illustrate that ecological boundaries (the interconnectivity of the marine ecosystem) do not correspond to the legal boundaries established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), especially for those ecosystems located both within and beyond national jurisdiction.

Over 40 participants from governmental authorities, academia, and non-governmental institutions from 18 different countries bordering or having an interest in the protection of the Thermal Dome and the Sargasso Sea attended the workshop, as well as from the Central American Maritime Transport Commission (COCATRAM). The participants looked into the concept and the criteria pertaining to the designation of a PSSA and the associated protective measures, examined the relevant IMO instruments to prepare and submit a proposal, discussed the challenges in relation to data and mapping issues, and used the recently designed North-Western Mediterranean PSSA to understand the procedures and efforts needed to prepare the proposal. In addition, the participants conducted group exercises to prepare a draft plan for the development of PSSA proposals to be submitted to IMO. 

This was the first workshop conducted by IMO and WMU on the topic of PSSAs on the high seas. It is anticipated that additional PSSA workshops and related topics will be delivered in 2024. 

More about WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean institute:

The WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute is an independent focal point for the ocean science-policy-law-industry-society interface where policy makers, the scientific community, regulators, industry actors, academics, and representatives of civil society meet to discuss how best to manage and use ocean spaces and their resources in accordance with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Institute was inaugurated in 2018 and made possible through generous support from The Nippon Foundation of Japan, the Governments of Sweden, Canada, and Germany, as well as the City of Malmö.

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